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Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Great Flood of 1947 Remembered

Marianna – A collection of photographs submitted to the Jackson County Times by retired Clerk of Courts Daun Crews recalls to memory one of the most significant disasters in the history of Jackson County.
The "Flood of 1947" was part of a national tragedy that also impacted residents across Jackson County. A series of slow moving tropical systems had combined with unusual weather conditions in the Midwest that year to generate torrential rains across eight states. As a result, thousands of people were driven from their homes and entire communities were washed away.
In Jackson County, the Chattahoochee, Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers – as well as numerous smaller creeks and streams – overflowed their banks, swamping houses, farms and roads. People were driven from their homes with little notice as rising waters established new 100 year flood levels.
The magnitude of the disaster is difficult to assess today, because at that time modern emergency management procedures did not exist, but citizen memories of areas flooded are startling to say the least. In eastern Jackson County, for example, communities located miles inland from the Chattahoochee River were cut off from outside communication by raging flood waters. The Chipola, as well, turned from a peaceful stream to a muddy torrent of water.
Railroad and highway travel between Marianna and Chattahoochee was cut by the flood and virtually every low lying area in the county was inundated.
This flood was the final straw in forcing the decision to construct the Jim Woodruff Dam between Chattahoochee and Sneads. The first of a series of dams on the Chattahoochee River, the Woodruff facility has since controlled the flow of the river sufficiently to prevent another overflow of the magnitude of the 1947 event.
Weather conditions have also not repeated the unique pattern experienced in 1947 and, even though the Chipola remains a beautiful, free-flowing stream, it has not since approached the levels reached during the great flood of 47’. Sooner or later, though, there is little doubt that the center of Jackson County will experience another "100 year flood."

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